The GCL Phillies started hot with four runs in the first inning and never looked back this afternoon as they defeated the GCL Blue Jays 7-3 in the opening game of the Gulf Coast League Season.
Returning Right fielder Jose Pujols drove in the third and fourth runs of the first inning with a gap double to right to get the party started. See Here
Third baseman Damek Tomscha launched a long high fly ball that left the yard in left for his first professional home run for a tack on run in the top of the third. He was a recent 17th round pick.
Matt Hockenberry came on with one out in the bottom of fourth inning and shut down the Jays, striking out five in 2.2 innings of work to pick up his first professional win.
Hockenberry, a recent 9th round draft pick from Temple, had one of the most impressive professional debut that I have ever seen. He struck out five, the first three swinging and the last two in the sixth on called third strikes. He simply pounded the strike zone at the knees with two seam movement on his pitches though his fastball sat at only 88-90. His first strike out was a thing of beauty as he located a breaking pitch that darted off the outside corner of the plate to completely fooled the right handed hitting Blue Jays batter.
But the real story may have been the pitcher sitting the entire game in the GCL Phillies dugout, Aaron Nola. He was the Phillies first round pick, seventh overall, in the recent draft. He is patiently waiting his turn to make his professional debut after being signed by the Phillies for the $3.3 million slot bonus. Most pro scouts expect him to be the first pitcher in this years draft class to pitch in the major leagues.
Could it be in tomorrow morning’s GCL game that Nola makes his debut? Lots of activity at the game this afternoon indicates something is up. When we first arrived, there was Special Advisor Dallas Green sitting up in the observation deck. Former manager in uniform Charlie Manuel was there, Farm director Joe Jordan was walking back and forth by the GCL dugout. Minor league pitching coordinator Carlos Arroyo was there too. Then all of the sudden out of no where in the fifth inning came Phillies G. M. Ruben Amaro Jr. striding quickly in from the left field parking lot. We just have a feeling that some thing big is about to happen.
Baseball Betsy and I are glad to be back in the Clearwater area with all the activity taking place in the Phillies organization. We hopped on an Airbus 320 out of Harrisburg International Airport last night and in one hour and 59 minutes in the air later we came in with a couple of bounces to Clearwater/St. Pete International Airport.
No way were we going to miss out on Aaron Nola’s debut in the Phillies system whenever it might happen even after traveling over 3,000 miles by plane and car to watch the all the other teams in the Philies minor league system this past week. Tonight we will complete our baseball summer adventure through the Phillies farm system when we will watch the Threshers in action at Bright House Field.
Off course the Phillies brass is in town to see the Phillies shortstop of the future and last year’s No.1 pick J.P. Crawford who made his debut at with the Threshers and to see how former top shortstop prospect Roman Quinn is now handling center field in the Florida State League. But we all know who they are really in town to see.
Nola awaits his first starting assignment:
Hockenberry reflects on his first professional win:
Tomscha hits his first professional home run: